Amelia Earhart's final landing.
June 4, 2012 8:04 AM   Subscribe

New analysis of archived radio signals have led researchers to what may have been Amelia Earhart's final landing site. Artifacts previously recovered from the site support conclusion.
posted by Stagger Lee (62 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a small child, I looked up to Amelia Earhart. I still love her story and totally have a "you were a rock star" crush on her. Thank you for the share. I am excited to learn more as additional information emerges.
posted by anya32 at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by notmydesk at 8:26 AM on June 4, 2012


I was never convinced before that Earhart survived, but the discovery of that jar of freckle ointment erased all doubt.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2012


I can't believe they ignored this evidence for so long.

I don't suppose there's any way to tell how long they were castaways? Also, shouldn't the remains of the plane be nearby?
posted by DU at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2012


Fritz Langwedge: "I was never convinced before that Earhart survived, but the discovery of that jar of freckle ointment erased all doubt."

So poignant, isn't it?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:31 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the Christian Science Monitor link: In addition, several artifacts found years ago – some of it discovered by Pacific islanders who later inhabited the island – seem to confirm TIGHAR’s conclusion. These include ... bone fragments and dried fecal matter that might be of human origin.

They found Amelia Earhart's fossilized shit. What an age we live in, what an age indeed!
posted by item at 8:31 AM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: bone fragments and dried fecal matter that might be of human origin.
posted by Fizz at 8:33 AM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Also, shouldn't the remains of the plane be nearby?

According to the CS Monitor article, they plan to begin looking for the plane using submersibles next month.
posted by item at 8:36 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amelia Earhart. A crush I have nursed for years.

Answering the question will only add to the awesome story of her life. What an amazing woman.

(just read the first comment, and I'm glad to not be alone!)
posted by roboton666 at 8:42 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is really interesting to me. Earhart had some fairly strong ties to Dallas, where I currently hang my head. With the exception of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Leadbelly, and Lee Oswald, Dallas is sorely lacking when it comes to interesting famous historical figures, so I take whatever we can get.
posted by item at 8:42 AM on June 4, 2012


Well the end of the world is coming in 7 months so we have a lot of unsolved mysteries to take care of. Luckily for you all I have an advance copy of the list.

(Spoilers ahead!)
posted by jeremias at 8:42 AM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


For all of the prominence that the idea of being castaway on an island has in our cultural imagination, I found myself really struck, while reading this article, by how hideous the actuality would be in the most probable outcomes. I hope that Earhart and her navigator didn't suffer long.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:44 AM on June 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's terrible to imagine them dying alone on that atoll. Ipsifendus, you're so right - we romanticize the castaway notion, but it would have been a slow death. At first they probably thought that they would be rescued - they had a radio and could transmit! - but that hope never realized.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


jeremias: July (D.B. Cooper located)
You're a few months late.
posted by knile at 8:52 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The sad thing is that her plane's transmitter could broadcast at 500kHz, which at the time was the International Calling and Distress Frequency, and she clearly knew morse. I wonder if the transmitter was damaged -- it just seems inconceivable that she'd be calling for help, but not using 500kHz as well as 3150kHz.

If the scenario is correct -- they transmit requests for help, they're ignored as false, and the plane is washed into the sea before a US Navy plane overflies the island, then they made another mistake. A Very Important thing to do in a survival situation where you are not (or cannot) move is to make a very big, very obvious mark saying "We're Here!" or at the very least 'Something is here that isn't normal, please come look closer."

Just a very big X in the sand might have been enough, but SOS written in big letters on the sand would have brought a boat to the island. Part of being rescued is helping the rescuers as much as you can -- and they're taught that in a search, anything that's obviously not supposed to be there is a sign that the people you are searching for might be there.

The fact that the transmissions were just assumed to be bogus is disturbing. It was known the aircraft had radios, and in a rescue situation, if you have a functioning radio, the exact thing you'd be doing is using it. Ignoring those calls -- it's just insane.
posted by eriko at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dallas, where I currently hang my head.

I can't decide if that's a typo, an eggcorn or a really clever joke.
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on June 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


Okay, according to the wiki, they'd cut off the long wire antenna because of issues with cranking it in and out of the plane. The rule is the lower the frequency, the longer the antenna, so they very probably couldn't effectively transmit on 500kHz because they didn't have an antenna matched to the frequency.
posted by eriko at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even if they hadn't cut off the longer antenna, they might not have been in a position to use it as it was under the fuselage. If they had to wait for tides to come in and out just to use the radio, maybe the bottom of the plane was wet.
posted by DU at 9:01 AM on June 4, 2012


One of the things that I haven't seen TIGHAR address (though I haven't waded too much into their website) is the fact that women and children were living on the island from 1940 as part of a British colonisation scheme. They've got a handful fr artefacts, and yet they really don't have a lot of evidence for something that would only have been on Earheart's airplane as opposed to something that could have been brought by later settlers, shipped to the island as trade goods, or traded indigenously.
posted by barnacles at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


(I was on the first TIGHAR expedition to Nikumaroro in 1989.) Concerning remains of the plane, the problem is that the reef is extremely steep and plunges to deep water just a few meters from the island, with nothing much to catch wreckage as it falls. Another possibility is that planes can "fly"underwater, meaning that it could have glided a long way from the island on its way down to the ocean floor.

The reef flat surrounding the island is about 10 meters wide (as I recall - maybe a little more, but not too much) at low tide, and the beach is far too narrow to land a plane. The plane would have landed on the reef flat and at high tide waves could have slowly washed it closer and closer to the edge until it finally went over.

A big problem about identifying artifacts is that there were settlements on the island in the 1930s and 1940s, including a US Coast Guard base during WWII. All of these left bits and pieces of stuff that were the same kind of stuff that Earhart's Electra might have been carrying. The Gilbertese colonists scavenged/bartered quite a bit of stuff from the Coast Guard and various other sources - supplies and tools were scarce in the Central Pacific and anything potentially useful was prized. So bits of aircraft aluminum were refashioned into other things, and now you can't tell if they originally came from the Electra or some kind of Coast Guard equipment. (How can you tell it was aircraft aluminum? At the time, a distinctive green anti-corrosion paint was used on aircraft parts, usually military planes. The Electra was civilian but it was heavily modded for the flight, including some mil-spec upgrades.)

Also, eriko, I recall Earhart was rather poor at keying Morse code and preferred to transmit by voice. (I don't remember about Noonan.)
posted by Quietgal at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2012 [125 favorites]


(I was on the first TIGHAR expedition to Nikumaroro in 1989.)

Wow!
posted by goethean at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it was the adventure of a lifetime, to be sure!
posted by Quietgal at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


dried fecal matter that might be of human origin.

yea that's totally going on eBay

or the History Channel's Pawn Stars.
posted by stormpooper at 9:23 AM on June 4, 2012


Concerning remains of the plane, the problem is that the reef is extremely steep and plunges to deep water just a few meters from the island, with nothing much to catch wreckage as it falls. Another possibility is that planes can "fly"underwater, meaning that it could have glided a long way from the island on its way down to the ocean floor.

Oh man. Please, no one tell James Cameron.
posted by chococat at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


So bits of aircraft aluminum were refashioned into other things, and now you can't tell if they originally came from the Electra or some kind of Coast Guard equipment. (How can you tell it was aircraft aluminum? At the time, a distinctive green anti-corrosion paint was used on aircraft parts, usually military planes. The Electra was civilian but it was heavily modded for the flight, including some mil-spec upgrades.)

See also...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2012


The sad thing is that her plane's transmitter could broadcast at 500kHz, which at the time was the International Calling and Distress Frequency, and she clearly knew morse.

I've read on a number of occasions that neither she nor Fred Noonan knew morse, and that they had left their morse equipment behind. It's always rather shocked me that she would make this trip without being able to send or understand signals using the standard of the day, when they must have known they would spend more time in exceedingly marginal radio conditions than good ones.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2012


distinctive green anti-corrosion paint was used on aircraft parts, usually military plane

Zinc chromate, and it's a *very* distinctive green. It's also rather nasty stuff to be spraying around, which is why zinc chromate paints are pretty much gone now.
posted by eriko at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the plane went down in July 1937 and they apparently survived for a short time anyway. Then on December 1, 1938 a British survey expedition arrived to evaluate the island and did not see any evidence of... anything?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:49 AM on June 4, 2012


distinctive green anti-corrosion paint was used on aircraft parts, usually military plane

Zinc chromate, and it's a *very* distinctive green. It's also rather nasty stuff to be spraying around, which is why zinc chromate paints are pretty much gone now.


According to this Wikipedia page, they occasionally coat 2024 alloy with Al-Zn to prevent corrosion.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2012


Huh, fascinating. I wonder if they have any way of getting DNA out of that supposed poop.

It also sounds like some bones were found at some point, and then lost?
posted by delmoi at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2012


Earhart had some fairly strong ties to Dallas, where I currently hang my head

I would too, if i lived in dallas
posted by Zerowensboring at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder if they have any way of getting DNA out of that supposed poop.

"It appears that Earhart subsisted during her final days on a diet of Fred Noonan..."
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2012


I was floored when Deepthroat's identity was confirmed and when Jandek came out of hiding. I can't imagine how I'd react of they actually found that plane.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


distinctive green anti-corrosion paint was used on aircraft parts, usually military plane

Zinc chromate, and it's a *very* distinctive green. It's also rather nasty stuff to be spraying around, which is why zinc chromate paints are pretty much gone now.

According to this Wikipedia page, they occasionally coat 2024 alloy with Al-Zn to prevent corrosion.


According to Light Alloys: From Traditional Alloys to Nanocrystals, by I. J. Polmear, 2024 and other 2XXX Al-Cu-Mg alloys used in aircraft applications are often NOT rollclad with Al-1Zn due to its significant reduction in wear strength and the ease by which it starts to show cracks.

That's why Erhart's plane was a nice shiny silver and not green.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bones: yes, the British colonial administrator reported that some Gilbertese colonists had found human bones while clearing brush. The bones were shipped to Fiji, where they were analyzed at the Central Medical School. The report survives but the bones are still missing.
posted by Quietgal at 10:17 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


About once a year a story comes out about tantalizing new clues to Amelia Earhart's final resting place. This story is plausible. Equally plausible is they went down somewhere over the water and drowned immediately.

Google Maps has a good aerial image of Nikumaroro Island. I can't plausibly work out how you'd even make a controlled crash on that thing. There's a stretch of sandy beach that's about 20' wide, I guess that'd do, and you only need 1000' or so to come to a stop.

One thing that astonishes me about these aviation pioneers is how difficult navigation was. I'm not positive, but in the 30s did they have any sort of radio navigation at all over the oceans, or was it strictly dead reckoning (impossible with winds) and stellar fixes? She was flying at 1000', so she wasn't trying to stay high to be in line of sight to some radio signal, but I have no idea how lower frequency radio navigation could work. And there's not much in the way of land in the middle of the pacific. Stories like this make me very grateful for GPS.
posted by Nelson at 10:20 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article and follow-up take a critical view of TIGHAR's approach and apparent failure to exclude pearl divers and others as sources of the artifacts.

Looking at the Google maps satellite view and the historical photos, I don't see a reef that looks more inviting for forced landing than the beach. Given a choice I would probably would have put a plane on the beach even if it mean having a wing in the shallow water (I've thought about this sort of thing while flying my little plane to the Bahamas). Maybe the water washed a plane from the beach out to the reef.

BTW zinc chromate primer is still used.
posted by exogenous at 10:22 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pan Am Clipper pilots were trained in celestial navigation, among other things, so my guess is that she navigated by a combination of that and dead-reckoning. I thought I saw an earlier article on this (a couple of months back) that a sextant had been located (on an earlier expedition) consistent with the type that would have been carried on her trip.
posted by jquinby at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2012


It's also rather nasty stuff to be spraying around, which is why zinc chromate paints are pretty much gone now.

According to this Wikipedia page, they occasionally coat 2024 alloy with Al-Zn to prevent corrosion.


The issue is the Chromium VI in the chromate part of things. Your body will reduce a certain amount of it to chromium III, but after that, you have a serious problem. But not for long.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Google Maps photo makes it look like there's a nice sandy beach all around the island, but that's actually the reef flat. The sand is a narrow strip of white, hard to see unless you're looking for it, and the broad grayish area is reef flat. The actual beach is maybe 3 or 4 meters wide in most places, and too close to trees to land a plane (you'd hit a wing). A pilot looking for an emergency landing spot would choose the reef flat, which looks pretty decent from the air. But the reef flat is not actually very flat - it's full of crevices and huge coral heads. It's tricky to walk on and would definitely tear up a plane in an emergency landing.

Radio navigation in the 1930s: Pan American Airways pretty much owned the Pacific routes, having set up bases with radio beacons on Midway, Wake and Guam to enable island-hopping across the ocean. (Aircraft range was limited, so island-hopping was the only feasible way to fly across the Pacific.) Pan Am's procedure used celestial navigation to keep the plane close to its intended course until it was within range of the radio beacons. Fred Noonan was formerly a navigator for Pan Am who helped develop that procedure, by the way. However, the Phoenix Islands, near Earhart's target of Howland Island, are nowhere near those beacons, or any other reliable navigation aids at the time. En route Noonan planned to use celestial navigation as per Pan Am, then a couple of US Coast Guard and Navy ships were stationed at various points to provide additional radio beacons.

The final leg of Earhart's flight was plagued by problems and poor decisions, and they all added up to a crash. The post-crash S&R effort was also plagued by questionable decisions (one search pilot noted "signs of recent habitation" on Nikumaroro, called Gardner Island back then, in his log, yet nobody went back for another look). A string of bad luck amplified by poor planning led to one failure after another, with fatal results.
posted by Quietgal at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


Dying of dehydration (and possibly starvation as well) isn't particularly romantic compared to mysteriously disappearing, is it?
posted by tommasz at 11:51 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Continuing on the Zinc Chromated tangent, alodine with epoxy paint is commonly used for corrosion protection today. At my old work, hard anodizing was used where paint wasn't practical. Zinc Chromate was considered kind of cancery.
posted by cardboard at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2012


Thanks for all the answers, Quietgal! Interesting to hear what it looks like from the ground. Landing on coral is definitely not what you'd want, but it beats ditching in the water.

I wonder if there are historical maps of that radio beacon network in the Pacific? Or were Midway, Wake, and Guam the only three? For comparison, here's a 1930 map of US radio range beacons, I think four course range stations. Celestial navigation absolutely was used in those times and isn't such a bad way to correct dead reckoning, but boy is it challenging. And impossible if you're below clouds.

One more puzzle; why was she flying at 1000'? In modern planes (non-turbocharged) you get maximum range the higher you go. Better view too. This random web page suggests that maybe she'd already decided to land at what she thought was Howland.
posted by Nelson at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2012




Dying of dehydration (and possibly starvation as well) isn't particularly romantic compared to mysteriously disappearing, is it?
posted by tommasz at 11:51 AM on June 4 [+] [!]


I'm sure she was picked up by a freighter bound for Japan. If not that, who was Tokyo Rose?
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2012


The TIGHAR page devoted to documenting every single reported "post loss" radio signal states clearly under the Qualitative Factors section:

Morse code proficiency in the transmission of a message is a strong negative factor. The Itasca logged numerous instances of hearing Morse signals on 3105 kHz, but neither Earhart nor her navigator, Fred Noonan, was proficient in Morse code.
posted by kuppajava at 12:18 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Continuing on the Zinc Chromated tangent

The Electra was made of 2024 Alcoa Aluminum, further reading says that it WAS Al-1Zn roll clad for corrosion resistance (aka 2024-T3 Alclad), though this cladding was skipped in later aircraft uses due to the reduction of strength. That is one way the TIGHAR team can distinguish between possible Earhart parts and parts from other (later) aircraft that use the same 2024 alloy, such as the aluminum found objects believed to have been from a B-24.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2012


The Clipper navigation stuff is fascinating! Did Pan Am ever lose Clipper flights in transit between the beacons?
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2012


July (D.B. Cooper located)
August (Abominable Snowman captured)
September (Jack the Ripper definitively identified)
October (Loch Ness monster captured on video)
November (E.S.P. scientifically proven)
December (Sasquatch captured and sends off the end of the world in style!)


i lost track, have they found Duclod Man yet?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2012


Dying of dehydration (and possibly starvation as well) isn't particularly romantic compared to mysteriously disappearing, is it?

I understand the concept of seeking out facts and solving puzzles, but what do we really gain from finding this stuff out? An ending to the story?

The story already has a mysterious ending, which is much better than any facts will ever provide us with.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2012


For some of us, the reason mysteries are so intriguing and compelling is that they hint at the facts we might uncover. They tease us with what we might find out if we run the right experiment, test conditions in just the right way, dig in the right spot, go on an expedition to find out.

Trying to learn the facts behind a mystery can be as much an adventure as circumnavigating the globe.
posted by darkstar at 1:01 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


> why was she flying at 1000'?

I can't find a reference at the moment, but I seem to recall it had something to do with celestial navigation - it's better to be low in order to shoot the sun accurately, or something like that. Hopefully someone who knows more will be along to answer better.

*looks around for eriko*
posted by Quietgal at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2012


Fred Noonan was the navigator on the original China Clipper flight--and first trans-Pacific airmail service--from Alameda, CA, to Manila via Pearl Harbor, Midway Atoll, Wake Island, and Guam in November 1935. Noonan mapped most of Pan Am's clipper routes across the Pacific Ocean

Did Pan Am ever lose Clipper flights in transit between the beacons?

The Hawaii Clipper disappeared between Guam and Manila on July 28, 1938.

The Samoan Clipper blew up over Samoa on January 11, 1938. The Philippine Clipper crashed into a mountain in Northern California in bad weather on January 21, 1943. List of clippers.

The California Clipper (later renamed Pacific Clipper) was in Auckland, New Zealand, during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the crew decided to fly west to return to the US instead of flying over the Pacific. It was the first circumnavigation of the globe by a commercial aircraft.

posted by kirkaracha at 1:23 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Landing on coral is definitely not what you'd want, but it beats ditching in the water."

As an (ex-)pilot, I think that ditching in the shallow, sheltered, central lagoon would be the safest bet in this situation. Landing on the reef would be as deadly as landing on a boulder field. Indeed, the wiki entry quotes one of the searchers (at Note 26) "The lagoon at Gardner looked sufficiently deep and certainly large enough so that a seaplane or even an airboat could have landed or taken off in any direction with little if any difficulty."

Running out of fuel then misjudging a dead-stick landing in the lagoon might have resulted in a probably fatal crash onto the coral reef shelf.
posted by monotreme at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2012


Zerowensboring: " Earhart had some fairly strong ties to Dallas, where I currently hang my head

I would too, if i lived in dallas
"

Hey now! It's not like we're Houston, for goodness sake.
posted by dejah420 at 2:39 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


i lost track, have they found Duclod Man yet?
I don't know what any of this is about, but yes, apparently.

posted by junco at 3:13 PM on June 4, 2012


> ditching in the shallow, sheltered, central lagoon

Quite a few Earhart aficionados have agreed that this seems better than busting up on the craggy reef flat. Of course the Electra was not a seaplane but it would have floated for a few minutes, long enough to jump out and swim for dry land. Without knowing what really happened, we can speculate that either Earhart missed the lagoon and dumped the Electra on the reef in preference to the open ocean, or actually intended to land on the reef hoping to keep the radio battery out of the water so they could call for help.

The radio situation seems to have been responsible for a lot of problems that otherwise would have been avoidable. Poor/no proficiency in Morse code. (Anyone who's talked over an aircraft radio knows it can be very hard to understand voice transmissions - lots of noise and vibrations really garble the words, and radios were much worse in the 1930s.) No antenna for transmitting on the international distress frequency. The Electra's receiver was borked - the USCGS Itasca could hear them and kept responding, but Earhart kept saying "We can't hear anybody!" (there's some evidence that the receiver antenna fell off on the runway when the plane left Lae, New Guinea, the last stop before they disappeared). Radio battery installed low in the fuselage despite long overwater flights. Taken together, the radio problems may have sealed their fate.
posted by Quietgal at 3:53 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


I would like to mention, out loud and in public, that I appreciate Quietgal's contributions to this thread. This is why I love the Internet.
posted by SPrintF at 7:09 PM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Does anyone know how this figures in with Betty's notebook, the notes from a teenage girl who thinks she heard voice transmissions from Earhart and Noonan on the night they disappeared? I've always wondered about this since hearing a radio show about it sometime ago.

She was such a heroic figure, to me it's so natural to want to solve the mystery of what happened to her.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:18 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I haven't heard anything more about Betty's notebook - it seems to be filed under "Interesting, possibly corroborating, but doesn't prove anything". It's a nice little tidbit, though.

Oh hey, SPrintF, it's my pleasure! I love talking about the TIGHAR expedition but rarely get an excuse.

The Earhart mystery is a compelling story on so many levels - it's got something for everyone:
• celebrities and rich people - George Putnam, Earhart's husband, was from the wealthy publishing family.
• an independent woman doing cool things in an era when that was almost unheard of - a rare role model for little girls.
• state-of-the-art 1930s technology - radios were pretty new.
• adventure - first ever flight around the world!

The glamor pulls you in, then you find the story is even more complex and interesting. Putnam was a well-connected promoter who pulled lots of strings to organize the flight (like getting the US Navy and Coast Guard to offer their ships as support - what kind of clout does that take?). Engineering problems cropped up repeatedly and the flight was rescheduled and rerouted several times (Earhart originally planned to go west around the world instead of east, which would have been safer for the trans-Pacific leg since the longest overwater segment would have ended on New Guinea, a much larger target than the tiny speck of Howland.) And man, they made some dumb-in-hindsight decisions about the radios, opting to save weight instead of carrying certain equipment.

Once you're hooked on a story like this, it's natural to want an ending. Closure, if you will. Of course I'm biased in favor of TIGHAR since they gave me the adventure of a lifetime, but I also think their theory is pretty plausible: Earhart and Noonan died of starvation and exposure on Nikumaroro. It's not a pretty ending but I'd still like to know for sure.
posted by Quietgal at 9:38 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Electra's receiver was borked - the USCGS Itasca could hear them and kept responding, but Earhart kept saying "We can't hear anybody!"...

Concerning remains of the plane, the problem is that the reef is extremely steep and plunges to deep water just a few meters from the island, with nothing much to catch wreckage as it falls. Another possibility is that planes can "fly" underwater, meaning that it could have glided a long way from the island on its way down to the ocean floor.


Well gosh golly gee thanks a bundle for that delicious nightmare fuel!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2012


In a briefing on March 19, the day before the triumphant State Department event, another senior official summarized that analysis: “This is consistent with what looks to be a wheel of an Electra 10E at the time that Amelia Earhart flew.” But, the official noted, “this is all highly speculative.”

That hasn’t stopped Gillespie from sounding the alarm, which, he readily admits, is a key part of the strategy for a non-profit run out of his garage in Wilmington, Delaware. “Amelia’s fame is like a faucet I can turn on and off with a press release,” he says.

posted by gottabefunky at 10:27 PM on June 6, 2012


One month later, TIGHAR's heading back out to Kiribati and Nikumaroro for another search.
posted by CancerMan at 9:52 AM on July 3, 2012


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